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Beginning of Construction work on new WHO/UNAIDS building

The design for a new World Health Organization (WHO)/Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) building has been unanimously selected following an international design contest. The new construction which will be built with the generous support of the Swiss Government and the Republic and Canton of Geneva, will house the new headquarters of UNAIDS. The building will be constructed on a site adjoining the WHO headquarters ("Les Crêts de Pregny") in Geneva and will create 480 new workplaces over an area of almost 14,000m2. Construction is scheduled for completion in June 2005.

The jury unanimously selected a design entitled "Permeability" by Austrian architects Baumschlager & Eberle as the winner of the competition.

The competition was organized by the Foundation of Buildings for International Organizations (FIPOI), with the collaboration of the Federal Office for Construction and Logistics (OFCL). Ten architectural firms from seven countries were selected by the Jury to participate in the competition.

WHO Director-General Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland, welcomed the new construction: "This new building is a tangible symbol of the Canton of Geneva's commitment to supporting WHO and UNAIDS in their work to improve global health. The new building will make our work easier and more effective as our Organization expands to take on the increasing number of tasks our Member States have mandated us to carry out."

Dr Peter Piot, Executive Director of UNAIDS, also backed the winning design: "UNAIDS is delighted with the winning architectural design chosen from an international competition organized by FIPOI. I would like to thank the Swiss Government and the Republic and Canton of Geneva for their continuing support and hospitality to UNAIDS in the fight against the global HIV epidemic and look forward to relocating UNAIDS into a building which will assist the efficiency of the Programme's operations in Geneva."

Under the guidance of FIPOI and OFCL, the objective of WHO and UNAIDS was to select a moderately-priced building, not only in terms of construction, but also in terms of annual operating costs and maintenance.

The nine-member jury decided upon the Austrian architectural design as it offers an advanced level of urban design, and a high architectural and functional standard. The effort to strike an optimum and lasting balance between economic, functional and environmental aspects is in keeping with the notion of sustainable development.

The jury chose the Austrian project because of "its highly contemporary, abstract and spacious design. The project is enhanced by a technical and functional design of equal calibre".

UNAIDS, established in 1996, is the leading advocate for worldwide action against the HIV/AIDS epidemic that affects virtually every country in the world.Today, AIDS is the gravest threat to the development of the world's poorest nations, as well as being a threat to human safety, especially in countries severely affected by the epidemic.

The primary objective of UNAIDS is to prevent the spread of HIV, to provide care and support for those infected and affected by the disease, to reduce the vulnerability of individuals and communities to HIV/AIDS and to alleviate the socio-economic and human impact of the epidemic.

WHO was founded in 1948, with the objective of "the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible level of health". To achieve this, WHO plays a leading role in the field of health by developing international norms, collaborating with Governments to strengthen national health programmes, encouraging the development of technology and disseminating appropriate health information.

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